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Bosch puts up research center in Singapore

Posted: 08 Sep 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:renewable energy? Asia research center? Singapore facility?

The Bosch Group has built its Asia-Pacific regional headquarters for research and advance engineering in Singapore. The "Research and Technology Center Asia-Pacific" (RTC-AP) will study technology trends and market opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, identify local technology leaders and search for challenging research subjects. The main target is to set up long-term partnerships with leading R&D institutions by means of cooperation in projects.

For its inaugural project on Organic Photovoltaics (OPV), Bosch is collaborating with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) School of Materials Science and Engineering, in order to decrease the cost of electrical energy gained from solar light. The research in this field of renewable energy is in line with Bosch's global goal to grow with technologies that protect the environment and conserve resources, and NTU's strength and expertise in organic electronics research.

Bosch will invest about $20.9 million in a modern laboratory and high-tech equipment over the next five years. The new regional headquarters for research and engineering, headed by Christoph Treutler, director of RTC-AP, will have about 30 associates; most of them research scientists with doctorates. The centre will also coordinate the two Asian research groups of Bosch which were set up in 2005 and located in Japan (Tokyo) and China (Shanghai).

Key APAC location
"We believe that the Asia-Pacific region has much untapped potential in the area of R&D and we foresee that the new regional headquarters located in Singapore will play a vital part in realizing our research targets in this part of the world", said Uwe Raschke, Bosch board member for Asia-Pacific.

Bosch chose Singapore as a location due to its highly competent researchers backed by excellent universities and research institutes, its stable political and economic climate as well as its outstanding infrastructure. The Singapore Government's strong support and efforts to establish the Republic as a hub for renewable energy is also considered a plus point.

"The establishment of RTC-AP is yet another significant milestone in the history of the Bosch Group in this country. Last year, Bosch set up its computing center and IT R&D facility in Singapore to provide central IT services to more than 200 Bosch locations in Asia-Pacific and to offer global IT R&D expertise. We are confident that Singapore will continue to play a vital role in the growth path of the Bosch Group in the region", said Cem Peksaglam, president and managing director of Robert Bosch (SEA) Pte Ltd.

Solar cell project
In the inaugural project on OPV, a new type of solar cells will be developed, based on organic semi-conducive materials, as a new alternative to generate electricity from light. In comparison to inorganic silicon-based solar cells which currently dominate the market, the production of the materials used in organic solar cells is not as energy-intensive. Due to its excellent light absorption qualities, organic-based solar cells can be deposited in ultrathin layers by vapor deposition or by printing. As a result, organic-based solar cells can be manufactured more cost-effectively and with less impact on the environment.

While the potential of lowering production costs using OPV and its range of product applications are very attractive, the research targets are also quite challenging. Current samples of organic solar cells convert only five per cent of the available solar radiation into electrical energy. The project plan is to improve this energy-conversion efficiency up to ten percent or more within three years.

RTC-AP's collaboration with the NTU is based on the faculty's expertise in nanotechnology and materials science which will help to increase the service life of the solar cells. A group of eight PhD and 25 undergraduate students will support the research as part of their coursework. The NTU research team is led by associate professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, head of materials technology within NTU.

In its first year of operation, the RTC-AP will be housed at the NTU laboratories until its own laboratories at the new Robert Bosch regional headquarters at Bishan Street 21 are completed. The collaboration with the NTU is established as a long term partnership. Bosch is in the process of identifying further research subjects to be undertaken in Singapore and will extend the collaboration to other research institutes and partners.

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